Sunday, January 16, 2011
New Zealand-Pakistan cricket test
Taking an American teen-ager - all hopped up on "Call of Duty" and other non-stop video games - to a cricket match might seem like an exercise in futility; particularly a test match, an international that lasts five days and more often than not ends in a tie.
Still, it was worth a go.
It began ominously, as we saw people bringing pillows, blankets and books into the ground. They were apparently anticipating levels of excitement considerably lower than a college football game in overtime.
"So where are the food stands?" Morgan asked almost immediately after we had found a spot on the grassy embankment. Good, I thought to myself, I have his interest. He wandered off in search of a steak and cheese pie and I lay back to enjoy the gale-force winds and the gentle chatter of the Kiwi cricket aficionados.
This was the second day of the match. New Zealand had scored 240-plus runs for six on the first day. (Too much jargon? Probably. I'm not even going to begin to explain cricket. There's not really enough space or point.) The New Zealand batsmen came out to finish their first inning and the game was under way.
Morgan shuffled back with a vat of chips. "So how long do we have to stay here?" was his opening gambit. Not precisely the father-son bonding experience I'd been imagining. He saw it more as a sentence to be endured - hard time at that.
But then a guy with a hammer walked past. "Why does that dude have a hammer?" Morgan asked. It being an obviously rhetorical question, I let it go unanswered. "Dad, why does that dude have a hammer?" Apparently not rhetorical, but still unanswerable. As you can see by the photo at right, dude had a hammer.
"I don't know, Morgan, perhaps he works here," was my most informed response. "Well, why's he sitting down over there in the crowd?"
"Can we stop talking about the guy with the hammer, Morgan? You're missing all the action."
"What action?" He had a point. Pakistan had begun by bowling two maiden overs, meaning no runs had been scored. I tried to get him to focus on the grace of the game, the skill of the bowlers, the timing of the batsmen.
"Why's that guy lying on the ground?"
"I believe he's stretching, Morgan?"
"In the middle of the game?"
The bowler was hurtling toward the wicket now. "Watch this, Morgan." We watched. It then became apparent to me that I couldn't actually see the ball being bowled.
"I can't see the ball," Morgan pointed out. An object, obviously, was being thrown, for the batsman ducked and the wicketkeeper jumped and caught something. The Pakistanis all applauded. Great, I thought, an invisible ball. It struck me as something from Monty Python, trying to explain a game with an invisible ball to my already skeptical son. (Due to my brilliant photography skills, you can clearly see the red object in this picture.)
"Do you want more food?" Transparent, perhaps, but it was all I had. The Kiwis had scored three runs at this stage (a decent test score is northwards of 400) and we'd been in the ground 45 minutes.
"No thanks, I'm stuffed." Damn, I was in trouble.
"Let's watch the game for a bit," I said.
Five seconds later: "Dad what two languages do you think are spoken most by bilingual people?" OK, I'll nibble. "Maybe English and Spanish," I offered.
"Yeah, I thought about that, but what about Hindi and English? Or English and French?" he replied.
"Maybe," I said. "Let's watch the game, shall we?"
"What are they doing now?"
"They've stopped for drinks?" I admitted, wincing.
"All of them? In the middle of the game?"
"Yes," I admitted defensively.
"Seems like now would be a good time to leave," Morgan said. If the bloody cricketers couldn't be bothered to play, he was saying, why the heck should he stick around?
"Yeah, you're probably right."
"We could come back later," he offered as a concession to his old man. "They'll still be playing this evening, won't they?"
"Yes, after lunch and afternoon drinks, they'll still be playing."
"OK, we'll come back then."
As we left the grounds, I took a look around, knowing I would not be seeing it again any time soon. It's a pretty stadium.